design thinking

John Spencer’s description of Design Thinking from a K-12 viewpoint:

  • The term “design thinking” is often attached to maker spaces and STEM labs. However, design thinking is bigger than STEM. It begins with the premise of tapping into student curiosity and allowing them to create, test and re-create until they eventually ship what they made to a real audience (sometimes global but often local). Design thinking isn’t a subject or a topic or a class. It’s more of way of solving problems that encourages risk-taking and creativity.

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Design thinking process – has seven stages. Within these seven steps, problems can be framed, the right questions can be asked, more ideas can be created, and the best answers can be chosen. The steps aren’t linear; they can occur simultaneously and can be repeated.

  • define
  • research
  • ideate
  • prototype
  • choose
  • implement
  • learn

Differences in values in science, humanities and design

  • in the sciences: objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and a concern for ‘truth’
  • in the humanities: subjectivity, imagination, commitment, and a concern for ‘justice’
  • in design: practicality, ingenuity, empathy , and a concern for ‘appropriateness

Visual thinking – “picture thinkers”

Strategies, tools

  • Sketches offer an unrestrained way to get thoughts down on paper through the “abstract representations of ideas and idea structures”. It is also an effective means of communication

What’s the problem?

Freestanding Structures – Design the tallest structure possible that can stand on its own, using only rubber bands and 20 dowels. All 20 dowels must be used and attached with rubber bands. Individual dowels may not be used only to add height (e.g. used to create an antenna). Also Unlimited rubber bands, Tape measure to measure building height

Stand your structure up and let it go. A structure that remains standing is a success. You can leave the
tallest successful structure standing to give participants a mark to improve upon.

Engineering ideas

  • Force, building stability, shear (sliding), tension (stretching), torque (twisting), compression (squeezing), support/, reinforcement, triangles, geometric shapes, stability of shapes

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

Learn more…

  • World of Design Thinking – What is design thinking? And how can it be used in education? Check out our pins for useful resources and inspiration.
  • Museum of Science – Design Challenges – hands-on activity to design, build, and test a prototype solution to a given problem. Have a fun and engaging experience with engineering and innovation processes.
  • [[}Visual thinking]] – also called visual/spatial learning, picture thinking, or right brained learning, is the phenomenon of thinking through visual processing.
  • Design Squad – Resources – Activities are hands-on challenges that focus on the engineering design process. They use simple materials, allow for multiple solutions, and are ideal for ages 9-12.